Sunday, April 30, 2017

HE SAYS: I am a Skunk in Heaven.


I am a Skunk in Heaven.

In the 7th chapter of The Gospel of Mathew, Jesus says:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The wonder of wonders is that God knows me.  I know this because he answers my prayers, even little insignificant prayers, but I do not know nor will never know, in this life, why the infinite, self-sufficient, holy creator of the universe pays any attention to me. 
  • God does not need me. 
  • He does not owe me anything. 
  • He cannot stand the stench of my sin.
Yet, He has chosen to love me.  He has given me the ability to do His will.  He has even made me an heir of heaven.  By giving me His Holy Spirit, He has invited me into the eternal relationship of the trinity.

To put this in perspective, I think it is like me inviting a skunk into my home.  No sane person would do this unless they had a way to eliminate the skunk's odor.

Jesus has done this.  His blood has covered my sins and made it possible for me to live in heaven with our Lord.  Alleluia!  He has done it!

Are you willing for your “sin't glands” to be removed?  Will you submit to Christ and allow Him to cover the stench of your sin and bring you into the presence of God?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

SHE SAYS:  You Cannot Save Yourself

Do you find yourself striving to do things that will make God love you more? 

Newsflash!!  Stop now.  Isaiah 64:6 is very clear...

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  Isaiah 64:6

Most of us want to maintain the idea that we are a "good" person.  However, as Isaiah is very clear to point out, there is nothing good about us that appeals to God.  We are unclean...meaning we are unfit to be in God’s presence (Lev. 13:45, 46; Hag. 2:13, 14)

While we often feel good about our "best" deeds, God equates them to filthy rags.  Ouch!  And to make it even worse, the contextual meaning of filthy rags is garments stained by menstruation. (Lev. 15:19; Ezek. 36:17). No one is sinless in God’s sight (6:5; Job 15:14–16).

If we can't put ourselves in right standing with God by doing good, then how can we ever be made right and holy in God's eyes? 

I'm glad you asked!  Check out Titus 3:4-7 for starters:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Jesus also tells us how to be brought into right standing with God the Father:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

Only by repenting of our sinfulness and complete inability to do good and then trusting in the perfect life, death and resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ, can we have complete forgiveness and have His perfect righteousness imputed (assigned) to us.

One last word from Isaiah that prophesied exactly what Christ has done:
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness...     Isaiah 61:10

Friday, April 17, 2015

SHE SAYS: Tax Day Reflections (pun intended...seriously)

Most Americans are relieved that April 15 is in our rearview mirror. However please stay with me as I reflect on a passage of scripture from the Bible that discusses the subject of paying taxes. I promise it won’t be boring and could have a dramatic impact on your life!

In an effort to trap Jesus and have him arrested, the teachers of the law and chief priest sent spies to watch him & try to trip him up with their duplicitous questions. They asked him “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus asked them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?"

They replied, “Caesar’s.”

He told them to “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

This ended their recorded conversation because they understood his remark and knew they’d been foiled. But we might not fully get it. If so, then this most likely would have been their next question – What then belongs to God?  

In past readings of this text, I have always thought of these verses from Psalm 50: “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God. I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” 

I believe God is saying, “I own all of creation.”

HOWEVER, this gets much more personal! I believe Jesus was telling them – “Go look at yourself. Whose image do you see?” We can find that answer in Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  We are "Imago Dei" - made in His image.

Friends – have you looked in the mirror lately? Have you given back to God the life He has so graciously given you? If not, today is the day to repent and put your trust in the One who at this very moment is giving you breath and sustaining your life. If you do this, He will grant you eternal life, so even if you die, you will live with Him forever. Don’t just take my word for it, read on – take it on authority of God Himself.

ACTS 17:24-31 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

ACTS 20:21 “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks (and all nationalities) that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

JOHN 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SHE SAYS:  Making Headlines

“ISIS Does Its Best to Eliminate All Traces of Christianity in Parts of Iraq and Syria under Its Control” 
“ISIS' dark mission: Destroying all signs of Christianity”
SIS tweets destruction of more Christian sites”
The above, are headlines seen in the news this week. As a Christian, these actions of ISIS do not alarm me. A cross is simply a symbolic reminder of our Lord’s rescuing act for us. We do not worship icons, statues and even if someone destroys our places of fellowship, the Church still exists – no one can destroy true faith.

However, God has a stern warning for those who choose to destroy His temple (i.e. believers).

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. 
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 
The persecution of my Christian brothers and sisters in these places must spur me to action. 
  1. I must pray for them as never before.
  2. I must give generously to support those who have been displaced and those who are fulfilling the great commission on the frontlines. 
  3. I must be known for my love for others, whether friend or foe.
  4. I must care too much to be silent or idle.
  5. I must seek out and learn as much as I can about those in harm’s way. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

God Did Not Remove the Snakes!


God did not remove the snakes!  This reality stood out to me this morning as I reread Numbers 21.  Let me set the stage:  Israel was grumbling about God and Moses (for like the 14,600th time!) because “There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”  So God responded by sending snakes among them and many people were bitten and died. 

The people were afraid; confessed their sin against God to Moses and asked him to pray that God would remove the snakes.  Faithful Moses prayed, and God provided a way of escape, but He didn’t remove the snakes.  He had Moses make a bronze snake & set it up on a pole in the midst of the people.  Only by looking at the snake, would the people be healed and live. 

This event is symbolic of both the sacrifice of Christ and the faith of His people.  Just like the bronze serpent, Christ in the “likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3) was lifted up.  All of us have been "bitten" with sin – we’re sinners and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).  Therefore we have no hope for eternal life except to believe and put our faith Christ. 

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."  John 3:14-18

Just as God did not take away the snakes, once we see Christ as our salvation, God puts His Holy Spirit in us, so even though we must continue to live in our bodies of flesh, tempted by sin, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63).

Friday, October 26, 2012


The “What Would Jesus Do?” fad is not as popular now as it was a couple of years ago, but I still see some of the bracelets and bumper stickers.  While reading Luke’s gospel today, I noticed some of the things Jesus did and would do still, since he is unchanging.
1.        Stir up an angry mob to the point where they wish to commit murder.
 “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.”   Luke 4:28-29  
2.       Hang out with the “wrong crowd”.
”Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”   Luke 5:29-30
3.       Disown his family.
”Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”  He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”   Luke 8:19-22
4.       Tell people if they are not fit for the kingdom of heaven.
”Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”   Luke 9: 61-62
5.       Not wash his hands before eating.
“But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.  Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?”   Luke 11: 38-39
6.       Intentionally insult people with the truth.
“One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”  Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”   Luke 11: 45-46
7.       Call successful people fools.
 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’   Luke 12: 18-20
What do you think Jesus would do?
I think he would speak truth into people’s lives even when it was insulting, hurtful, or degrading.  He did this because He is truth:
"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6 1984 (NIV1984)
Jesus did this because he came to testify to the truth:
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
"Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  John 18:37 1984 (NIV1984)
Are you on the side of truth?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

HE SAYS: “This Too Shall Pass”

I used to sing a song which was encouraging and uplifting to me, but since I have been born again, I do not enjoy the song anymore, and I cannot even sing the lyrics.
Initially, I just felt a sense of dislike for the song, even though I could not identify the reason for my change in heart.
This weekend, the song was sung at the funeral of a long-time family friend, and I could not sing along with the congregation.  I decided to do some analysis of the song to understand better why my spirit rebelled against it.
The first lyric which is problematic is the second stanza:
“Tis not by sight we walk this way of God; But leaning on His love, We follow, with a faith that questions not, on t’ward the things above.”
Jesus never asks us to follow blindly.  He is the light of the world, and he healed many blind people during his ministry.  He healed one man who had been born blind, and everyone saw the miracle.  The Pharisees were so angered by His display of power, they expelled the man from the synagogue.   When Jesus heard what had happened, He revealed His true identity to the man, and the man worshipped Him. 
Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”   John 9:39 (NIV1984)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.“   John 1:1-5 (NIV1984)
The assertion of the song that Christians blindly follow their “god” while questioning nothing is NOT biblical, but the real heart of the song is revealed in the last stanza:
“When o’er our head the sky may clouded be, Just hear the Father say, “This, too, shall pass- it bears the promise of a brighter clearer day.””
I was intrigued by the words spoken by the “father”, so I looked for the phrase(s) in the bible.  I did not find them!  I next looked on Google, and the phrase “This too shall pass” came up quickly.  It is from a proverb.  The proverb however is from the Sufi prophets of Persia.  They are a sect of Islam, and their faith is known as Sufism.
I now understand this song is not Christian, because Jesus made us a very different promise.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me."  Matthew 24:9 (NIV1984)